REVIEW: Pillsbury Banana Bread Batter

You’ve been there. It’s Saturday, and you want banana bread, but all of your bananas are green! Rats! There’s no way to rapid-ripen them, so what do you do?! Boy oh Pillsbury doughboy, does General Mills have a solution for you with its new ready-to-bake Banana Bread Batter.

Okay, maybe that scenario isn’t very realistic, but thankfully this banana bread batter is. It’s also kind of hilarious. I don’t know why a bladder bag full of bread batter is so funny, except to say that a tube of goo will always garner a giggle. The product is pretty straightforward. You simply spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray, squeeze the batter goo into the pan, try not to eat all the goo instantly because, for some inexplicable reason, this batter tastes better than most cookie doughs you’ve tried, and then bake.

The batter needs a little assistance getting into all the corners of the pan, so you need to smooth it out a bit. No big deal, and so far, this is the most effort I’ve put into the entire process aside from cutting off the bag’s tip. The first time I made this, I ignored the step in the instructions to let the batter sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking. Instead, I squeezed it out immediately after removing it from the fridge and baked it for the 60-minute recommended bake time.

When I did this, I baked the joy straight out of it. It was way overdone, had developed a thick bottom crust, was pretty dry, and lacked flavor. I was super disappointed, but it turned out the way it did because of user error. It’s reasonable to expect that a loaf of bread that needs to be baked for an hour should be checked on at around 50 minutes or so. Also, the batter tasted so good that I had to try again. I have to give you all an honest review experience!

I picked up another tube of goo to redeem myself! This time I let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes before squeezing the batter into my greased loaf pan. I also decided to add mini chocolate chips because, well, morsels. I reduced the baking time to 50 minutes and checked the loaf with a toothpick for doneness. This second attempt was an enormous success. This banana bread has a natural banana flavor that is not overpowering. The texture is fluffy, almost like a cake. I would say, as compared to homemade banana bread, most homemade recipes are far more moist and sticky dense. But for how quick and easy this is (assuming you don’t have to do it twice because I did that for you), it’s pretty good! It scratches an itch!

Overall I’d say Pillsbury’s Banana Bread Batter is unique and absurdly convenient for a consumer need that I’m not entirely certain exists. But it sticks the landing with a fluffy, tasty cake bread ending. I would suggest adding mix-ins like chocolate chips, walnuts, or maybe even another real banana to jazz it up a little.

Purchased Price: $6.49
Size: 30 oz log (makes 1 loaf)
Purchased at: Mariano’s (Kroger)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/15 of a loaf) 190 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar (including 14 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Morningstar Farms Pringles Original Flavored Chik’n Fries

Morningstar Farms has teamed up with fellow Kellogg’s brand, Pringles, to bring us Pringles Original Chik’n Fries.

You might ask, “What the heck is a Chik’n Fry?” Well, it’s when you take the food that you normally feed TO chickens, mash it together, fry it up, and give it a clever name. In this case, they’ve also taken the extra step to hopefully bring more folks into the fold of plant-based foods by wrangling in the Pringles brand. These pairings are tactful, and the results can be very successful. I tend to enjoy Morningstar Farms’ plant-based breakfast patties and spicy chik’n products, so I was hopeful when picking these up.

(Before baking, banana for scale. I did not bake the banana.)

Upon first impression, I found these chik’n fries to be small and narrow, similar in size to fast food chicken fries I’ve tried in the past. I don’t have an air fryer, so I followed the standard oven instructions. Based on what my in-laws keep telling me, I’m sure these would have tasted better if blessed by the holy burps of an air fryer, so maybe someone else can try that and let us know in the comments.

The fries came out of the oven a nice golden brown and glistening slightly. They smelled great and had developed a crunch on the exterior. Ketchup clung to the side without any trouble and without bending the fry.

Unfortunately, that’s where most of the appetizing attributes ended. If I closed my eyes, you could convince me I’d bitten into a fish stick with years of freezer burn. They were very, very bland. The crunchy coating was fine but definitely under-seasoned. Aren’t Pringles salty? And speaking of Pringles, the ingredient line on these Pringles Original Chik’n Fries lists “potato chips,” but as I’m sure regulars of this site are already aware, Pringles are potato CRISPS. Were Pringles even used? Then again, if they were, and Pringles are re-formed dried potatoes, does that mean they formed Pringles just to crush them back up again and encrust this bland rectangle? The world may never know.

The texture of these plant-based chik’n fries was on par with Morningstar Farms products. They have developed a nice layered matrix that resists when you bite just enough to simulate something close to a chicken nugget. The inside appearance gives itself away as plant-based pretty quickly, but I don’t think that matters as much for some reason.

Overall, I just wish these tasted better. With a co-brand like Pringles, I was expecting some irresistible savory flavors, but I didn’t find it in either the coating or the chik’n. Maybe they’ll do better with the Scorchin’ Cheddar Cheeze flavor expected later this fall. But even as a type that, I realized “Cheeze” is spelled with a Z, meaning it’ll probably be a non-dairy flavor powder. We can hope for the best, I suppose.

Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: 13.5 oz bag
Rating: 5 out of 10
Purchased at: Mariano’s (Kroger)
Nutrition Facts: (about 5 pieces) 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 670 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ruffles Limited Edition Honey Habanero Potato Chips

What are they?

Ruffles has continued its recent trend of spicy line extensions with limited edition Honey Habanero Ruffles.

How are they?

SPY-CEE. They’re hawt. Which, honestly, is a relief because I don’t support the irresponsible use of the term “habanero.” I realize that coming in hot, pun intended, on a review by jumping straight to the taste is a little out of the ordinary, but it’s definitely the first thing I noticed about these chips. They have the kind of heat that if you breathe in the wrong way while you’re eating them, the spice hits the very back of your throat and lights your whole esophagus on fire. My husband disagrees and thinks they’re not THAT hot. So I guess you should approach these with some caution, but not too much. “Habanero Peppers” are also listed as an ingredient, which I appreciate.

These stand out in a few other ways. First, they are saturated in oil and seasoning powder. The chips look remarkably similar to the graphics on the bag; no false advertising there. They are satisfyingly oily and full of flavor from the onset.

The initial sweet flavor is pretty flat. I wouldn’t say I picked up a ton of honey, even though I did see it on the ingredient line. I think it’s a hard flavor to break through all of the capsaicin, so it’s possible that without as much of the other seasonings, I would’ve picked up more honey. But I mostly just tasted “sweet” and then spicy heat. I thought the balance of sweet and then spicy was great, and these chips definitely left me wanting more, even with a mouth full of numb taste buds.

Anything else you need to know?

As you can see from the bag, there’s a Fast & Furious tie-in. There’s a sweepstakes that gives Ruffles eaters a chance to win movie tickets, Fast & Furious merchandise, or a 2023 Dodge Charger R/T. Also, did you know Vin Diesel’s birth name is Mark?


These Honey Habanero Ruffles are pretty good. The sweetness isn’t quite complex enough to be recognizable as honey, but everything else about these chips is delicious, craveable, and worth picking up if you like spicy snacks.

Purchased Price: $4.79
Size: 8 oz bag
Purchased at: Mariano’s (Kroger)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (About 13 chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Frosted Banana Bread Pop-Tarts

I bet it’s really fun to work on Pop-Tarts. The brand is iconic, the average consumer understands it’s not a “better for you food” (unless influenced by Spencer Sheehan… side eye), and the product mimics any manner of other sweet food types you can think of! Like the ocean of available potato chip varieties, I’ll always be curious to try a new Pop-Tart. This is especially true about its latest — Frosted Banana Bread Pop-Tarts.

I love banana bread. It’s basically cake for breakfast. But more importantly, I think banana bread is a very authentic fit for a Pop-Tart emulation. I decided to try these in the two standard preparation styles — toasted and un-toasted. I am not dedicated to either camp. I think each flavor has a best preparation method, but neither is best for every variety. For example, I think Cherry Pop-Tarts are freaking incredible toasted. A lot of the chocolate versions are better, in my opinion, un-toasted.

Anyway, I decided to try the Frosted Banana Bread Pop-Tart un-toasted first because, well, I had to wait for the other one to toast. I know, rocket science. Its crust is visibly more brown than Pop-Tarts’ core fruit flavors, and I could see many little cinnamon speckles throughout. The crust was subtly sweet with brown sugar/molasses notes and a hint of cinnamon. Pretty tasty and plenty reminiscent of banana bread.

The flavor of the center and insides was complicated. The filling on the inside had a more realistic banana puree taste, while the icing was like artificial banana candy. It wasn’t overpowering, but they were distinct flavors. I don’t love that artificial taste, so I wished they’d released this one as an un-frosted variety. But the filling, while delicious, was just way too mild to carry this breakfast pastry alone. That would have been very boring. What a conundrum!

Around this time, my toaster oven dinged, and I got to try the whole experience again with a toasted Pop-Tart, and WOW that made a WORLD of difference. Once toasted, the crust was far more pronounced, bringing a nice cinnamon-y base layer. But the filling! The filling, when toasted, just exploded with real banana flavor. I peeped the ingredient line and realized there is actual banana powder in these, so maybe that’s what was doing it? I still could have done without the super sweet frosting, but wow. That filling and crust combo (when toasted) was great.

Overall I thought this was a fun Pop-Tart that seemed like a long time coming. The banana candy frosting isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy that flavor, grab a box of these as fast as you can and definitely put them in the toaster.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 13.5 oz box / 8 pastries
Purchased at: Mariano’s (Kroger)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 2 pastries) 360 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 71 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 34 grams of sugar (including 34 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Frosted Lemon Cheerios

As the Northern hemisphere thaws from an icy winter and we drag our allergy-ridden behinds to the grocery store, a fresh ray of hope meets us — Spring Flavored Stuff.

Ah, seasonal flavors, you tasty little tropes. Pumpkin spice might have a choke hold on the fall, but which flavor will prevail to rule the spring? Carrots have tried, but they taste like nothing. For a moment, I thought this would be the Age of Raspberry, but it seemed that was a Valentine’s red flash in the pan. Therefore, I would like to present my case for lemon. The Year of Lemon is upon us. Will this drastically underrated flavor finally prevail? Cheerios is willing to find out with its new Frosted Lemon variety.

The delicate aromas of lemon and sugar are the first to meet my senses. Yep, smells like lemon. I was also pleased to see no signs of yellow color, natural or otherwise. Cheerios kept it au naturel in the appearance department. If you put these next to standard Frosted Cheerios, I don’t think I’d be able to pinpoint which one was which just by looking at them. The lemon scent is delightful and suggests they won’t be too strong.

Digging into a bowl prepared with 2% milk, I’m immediately reminded of Fruit Loops. Only these are a better, more sophisticated version. Think Fruit Loops’ older cousin who sometimes buys them alcohol. The lemon is not at all overwhelming. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if it was a bit stronger. The flavor is citrusy and sweet, reminiscent of a lemon cookie or lemon cake, but not too sweet. I should note that there is no actual lemon in the ingredient line here. It’s just a perfectly chosen and mindfully balanced natural lemon flavor. Hats off to you, Big G. These are great.

I also gave these a whirl as the topping for my fruit and yogurt breakfast. The lemon flavor gets lost easily in this application, so I’d stick to your standard milk and cereal preparation to get the full effect.

Overall, this seasonal variety is well done. The lemon is fresh, bright, and not overpowering. It’s a great way to start or end your day and a fine introduction to The Year of Lemon (please let this catch and become an actual thing).

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14.7 oz box
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup without milk) 140 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar (including 11 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.